Café with a brilliant view
One of the nicest view on the beautiful campo offers the little balcony of the Café la Costarella in via di Citta 33. Besides they have good caffe and snacks.
You must feel like the king of Il Campo when you've got a seat on the balcony - I didn't, it's very popular.
You must have....
Good walking shoes are essential as you will find yourself walking up and down hills and on stone all day. Make sure you protect your feet. And don't forget your sunglasses. The sun reflecting off the white marble buildings can be very intense.
Skip the Train to Siena, Take the Bus
To go to Siena from Florence, the quickest and most convenient way is the SITA bus which you can get at the SITA Bus Terminal at 17 Via S. Caterina da Siena across from the train station. There are two busses, SIENA DIRETTA' and the 'SIENA RAPIDA. One of them takes about an hour and the other a couple of hours so make sure, before you board, that you ask which one takes the least time. The train takes more time, stops outside the walls, and will take you about 20 minutes to walk into the center.
Another hidden gem
Somewhere in the winding alley between San Domenico and Casa di Sta Caterina is an unassuming osteria which, at first glance, seems to be more proud of its contrada - depicted by the dragon mascot - than its food. But the food here - at least the ones I had - is anything but second-rate.
Order their pici al ragu - thick spaghetti in ragu meat sauce for your primi piatti and you'll crave for more of their cooking. The ragu sauce is not heavy, and drizzled with the right amount of freshly grated parmesan reggiano just to give it an extra flavor. My secondi piatti - a Lombardy specialty, ossobucco or braised veal shank to you and me, is rightly seasoned and has this melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. It was a bit cold though, but I don't blame them since I sat at the al fresco dining area on a rather chilly autumn afternoon. Creme caramel - scrumptious, delectable - ended the lovely lunch on a high note.
Palazzo Pubblico, the public palace, which dates back to 1250 and is still the seat of the Municipality.
The Palazzo is also home to some fine frescoes, and makes a good beginning to your sightseeing tour. At the ticket office in the internal courtyard you can buy a range of tickets. These give access to differing numbers of Siena's attractions, and some are valid for several days - a good way to save money, if you're planning a longer stay. A combined ticket for €9.50 gives you access to the Museo Civico inside the Palazzo, and also to the tall belltower, the Torre del Mangia. The tower is an excellent way to view Siena, the views over the town and countryside are breathtaking and help the visitor understand the geography of the town. Be warned though, that the climb is also breathtaking. A limited number of people are allowed up at a time, and you'll understand why when you see how narrow and poky the stairs are. The final climb up to the highest bell on its lofty framework is a nervewracking ladder - don't even think of making the climb if you have a poor head for heights or are very unfit.
Moving on to the museum, highlights include superb frescoes by Simone Martini, whose Maestà religious scene is one of the oldest examples of Sienese painting and glows with colour and life. Even more fascinating is a fresco cycle by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1319-1348), the Allegories of Good and Bad Government. In one series, a 'good' ruler presides over a prosperous city (Siena) and productive countryside, while the effects of bad government are shown to be dismal misery and urban deprivation. Also worth seeing are an exquisite rose-tree made of gold (a gift to Siena from a pope), and some beautiful carved choir stalls with religious illustrations (one fine example shows the dead clambering from their graves on Judgement Day).